Jude Collins

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Those black armbands...

The relatives of the Louginisland killings were on the radio this morning and they seemed really pleased that yesterday the Republic of Ireland team wore black armbands to commemorate those shot dead while watching the Ireland-Italy game in 1994. It seems poor recompense for the loss of a loved one but they seemed genuinely moved by the gesture.  There are already critics online saying the FAI is being selective in its choice of victims to remember but that’s balderdash. The fact is these people were totally innocent and were killed while watching an Ireland-Italy game on 18 June 1994.  Yesterday was 18 June 2012.

It’s worth asking, though, why these six people were killed.  A couple of days earlier, the INLA shot dead three UVF men on the Shankill Road. On 17 June 1994, the UVF retaliated by shooting dead a Catholic taxi driver in Carrickfergus and two Protestant civilians in Newtownabbey, under the impression they were Catholics. The Loughinisland massacre on 18 June was another part of the UVF retaliation.

Now you’ll no doubt have noticed the difference between the INLA killings and the UVF killings: the INLA shot dead members of the UVF, the UVF shot dead people who were (or they thought were) Catholics. All killing is terrible but it’s not hard to see which group’s killing is the more heinous. And that kind of killing was, broadly speaking, UVF and UDA strategy: they’d kill so many Catholics, the nationalist and republican population would  be terrified and put pressure on the IRA to cease operating.

It’s a shameful but by no means unique strategy. When Harry Truman gave the OK for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he knew tens of thousands of innocent Japanese would die but he went ahead, arguing that it brought the war to a speedier conclusion. Likewise, the British bombing of German cities such as Dresden, where at least 25,000 civilians died. Likewise US drone attacks on Pakistan, still happening and often aimed directly at mourners and funerals, have led to the death of hundreds of innocent civilians, including children.

So there’s no point in saying the UVF or the UDA were uniquely cruel in their targeting of innocent Catholics. They were doing what Americans and British authorities have been doing for decades: taking innocent human life as a way of achieving military goals.

Not that such a fact makes Loughinisland any less disgusting morally. But there’s a lot of it about, a point maybe worth keeping in mind when next you hear people express their loathing for the killing of Mountbatten or the Omagh bomb.  If you’re busy killing innocent civilians yourself, spare the rest of us the hypocrisy.  


  1. Are ignorant buffoons still criticising the FAI for supposedly being selective in their choice of victims? The FAI made clear when plans for this gesture were first publicised that the black arm bands would commemorate all victims of the Troubles: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-18100365

    John Delaney: "I would like to thank UEFA for assisting us in commemorating this atrocity and take the opportunity to remember all those who lost their lives in the Troubles."

  2. And when did the I R A ever listen to the Nationalist population imploring them to stop their campaign of bombing and shooting?Perhaps someone can supply the answer!

  3. The UVF/UDA self acclaimed tactic of killing Catholics to dissuade them of supporting the IRA is credited in some circles as not only justified but effective. Those who hold this opinion didn't know or understand the Catholic community or it's relationship with the IRA or the IRA's relationship with the Catholic community. The murder of Catholics by loyalists was a clear example of British rule in Ireland it connected the Cromwellian experience of their ancestors in a way no book or folk memory could. Catholics suffered in the IRA's economic bombing campaign as Protestants did, but then Catholics victims had their relatives targeted by loyalists because they were Catholics. The paucity of the loyalist logic is that you cannot be terrorised out of being a Catholic. Whatever Catholics did or didn't do they were targeted. Burying the past will ensure it will return with vigour.

  4. Anonymous 15.21-The GFA?
    I think the point of the article is to distinguish between a gesture for all victims & mouthing by hypocrites who tend to have selective memory. Didn't someone once say that the struggle of man against power was the struggle of memory against forgetting. The loyalists did the dirty work for the British, just as others have done in the past ( & who were for the most part abandoned when their usefulness was exhausted.
    Suggested reading re the British-The Blood Never Dried by John Newsinger.
    Suggested reading re U.S- A Peoples History of the United States by Howard Zinn.

    Jude-illegitimi non carborundum!